Wearables such as FitBit can help an office wellness program achieve its goals
Workplace wellness programs and fitness challenges have long been a headache for HR professionals and administrators, with low participation and onerous tracking methods via spreadsheets and whiteboards. But with wearable fitness trackers like Fitbits or Jawbone UPs becoming increasingly popular with Americans, companies are taking notice. Statistics show that 13 million wearables are expected to be integrated into corporate wellness programs in the next five years.
Wearable devices track a user’s step count, physical activity, caloric intake, heartbeat, sleep and more. They make tracking daily activity, fitness and wellness easier by doing much of it automatically, and several of the wearable manufacturing companies have launched administrator platforms that make it easier for employers to subsidize or provide their employees with a wearable fitness device and then allow them to track activity through a central panel. This can help with fitness challenges, wellness initiatives and also giving the employer an idea of where they can improve on the employee health and wellness front.
Reports from a variety of companies have shown that the integration of wearables at the workplace has helped them improve employee participation in corporate wellness, and that’s a good thing for the bottom line. Studies have shown over and over that every dollar spent on employee wellness gets incredible return on everything from health insurance to employee retention.
How to increase participation in a program with wearable fitness trackers
But implementing wearable fitness trackers into your corporate wellness program isn’t an instant slam dunk. While the spreadsheets and whiteboards may go away, wearables face the same challenge as any corporate wellness program: participation. Simply distributing them and expecting them to work won’t do it.
Here are three ways to get your office revved up about a new wearable program.
1. Get the executives in on it
Encourage higher-ups to publish their tracking company-wide. Have them issue friendly competitions to beat their step count, and lead by example in using the tracker to improve their fitness and health throughout the day. Most employees, seeing that something is important to their bosses, will follow suit and feel comfortable tracking health and fitness at work.
2. Incorporate more movement into company culture
Employees spend the majority of their waking hours in your office. If you’ve provided them with a way to track their movement throughout the day, you’ve got to make it part of the culture to move more. Incorporate wearables by implementing things like walking meetings, where employees increase their step count while talking business. Encourage employees to leave the building during their lunch hour with mini step count challenges or to get up and move when they get an alert that they aren’t hitting their goals for the day.
3. Create a competition
Workplace fitness competitions have been around forever, but wearables make them particularly easy for administrators. Put a prize or incentive up for grabs for step count, for example, and make it a good one. Cash prizes and extra vacation days are always motivating to employees to step it up (literally) and join in, especially when it is something as simple as walking more throughout the day.
While fitness trackers are simply part of an overall workplace health and wellness program, they can be effective in getting people excited, involved and moving more. They’re inclusive (nearly anyone can walk a bit more!) and they provide instant feedback, which helps motivate employees as they see the results of their efforts and compare themselves with those around them.
We want to know: does your company use wearable devices as part of its corporate wellness initiatives? What’s your best strategy for implementing them? Leave your thoughts in the comments!